9.30.2008

Mom's Rose

Pink Mini Rose
I have always had a bit of a black thumb. I have worked very hard to improve my plant care abilities, but I still seem to kill potted plants. Knowing this about myself, I was nervous after my mother's memorial service when I was given a car full of plants to take home. I made Jason promise not to let me to feel to depressed when I inevitably killed the plants. Sure enough one by one they died. At the one year mark of my mothers death only plant was left, this miniature rose. It looked so pathetic back in June, we were sure it was a goner. I know that my mom is in no way connected to the plant, but still I felt like giving up on the plant would be in someway giving up on her. Once again I re-potted it (in a ugly pot since I was sure it was going to die) and attempted to bring it back. Surprisingly, it worked! The rose has burst back to life.

I know this will sound cheesy, but this little rose is a lot like my mom. My mother was resilient. Frankie was determined to survive. Even when placed in adverse situations she flourished. She was able to rise above so many set backs in her life. My little rose is a beautiful reminder to me of her fortitude and strength. In some ways it reminders of her personality as well. Frankie was spunk, bright, and stubborn. I wish you all could have met her, she was really amazing.

9.29.2008

Picked a Peck of Apples

apple valley orchard
Sunday afternoon we were sitting around trying to decided what to do. It was such a pretty day that we didn’t want to just waste it sitting around the house watching documentaries (this is our typical Sunday afternoon ritual). While surfing the web looking for something to do, we stumbled onto Apple Valley Orchard's site. Within a few moments we were dressed and on our way to get some apples.

We had heard about the orchard but had never been. It did not take us long to realize that Apple Valley Orchard is in the middle of nowhere. We were nervous we had the wrong directions since we kept driving deeper and deeper into rural Bradley County. Then, all the sudden, we came across a white building swarming with people.

Apple Valley is apple heaven. Apple sauce, apple butter, apple fritters, apple pie, apple cider and more! It is an adorable little country store full of all kinds of goodies. After pursuing the shop and eating our pastries we picked out our apples and head back to town. We were having so much fun shopping local, we decided to swing by the Ocoee Winery. Unfortunately, Bradley county residents make better apple cider than wine. But, at least they are trying.

Once at home we peeled and cored our peck of apples and started the process of making homemade apple butter. The apple butter is still cooking in the crock pot, but if it taste half as good as it smells it is going to be divine. Sunday was a wonderful day to live in Cleveland, TN.

Ps. Blue kernel popcorn looks like regular popcorn when it pops. We bought some at the orchard because we thought it would pop blue (I realize now how dumb this sounds). We got so excited when it started popping. As the kernels started to opening we felt like kids who had just realized Santa wasn’t real. Are we the only people to think blue kernels means blue popcorn?

The Milk Man

Over the weekend, I met the milk man. His “got milk” tattoo is real and permanent. When asked about it he said "it was sort of a split-second decision."

the milk man

9.27.2008

The Swell Season in Concert

Have you seen the movie "Once"? If not stop now and run (I mean run) to blockbuster and pick it up! It is amazing! The movie is the story of an Irish street musician and an immigrant from the Czech Republic.

The Swell Season consist of the two lead actors from the movie, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I would describe it as indie rock mixed with a little folk. It is incredible. The concert was amazing. We knew it was going to be great when Glen strolled out on stage with worn out guitar and performed the opening song from the movie without an amp or microphone. It was phenomenal! Also, they talked a lot. I know some people hate this, but I love the insight you gain from hearing them share about their music. Hansard did most the talking, he explained his songs as well as showed his very funny, very Irish sense of humor. Below is a clip of them performing live, complete with Hansard's humor. For those of you who haven't see the movie he is basically re-telling the plot, this why everyone is laughing.



Nashville is EXACTLY what we expected. Live music everywhere. Broadway was a flood of country music. I think there was a street performer on every corner. As for the Ryman, the history of the auditorium is amazing. It was built by a wealthy business man as an evangelism center for a tent revival preacher. Slowly, because of mounting debit, it was turned into a musical hall. Some of the most famous names in country music have performed on the stage. Despite all the great history, I am going to have to agree Ryan Adams. In an interview Adams called the Ryman a "shit-hole." After sitting for four hours on the wooden benches, trying to see around the poles, and being completely distracted every time anyone in the 3,000 seat venue moved I agree with Adams. Interesting history, but a crappie place to watch a concert.

Oh and one more thing . . . Bill Callahan sucks. He was the opening act and I think that watching paint dry would have been more interesting. He stood completely still and sang long drawn out songs that all sounded alike. The only upside was his drummer. He was insanely animated and made the show almost tolerable.

9.26.2008

Happy Window, Happy Day

Yesterday I took off from work so I could sleep in and recover from our trip to Nashville. Once we finally got up we spent almost the entire day outside. The weather has been amazing and it was marvelous to spend then entire day enjoying it. While lounging in the yard with the dogs we were able to finally get our shutters and flower boxes painted and hung on our storage barn. It will look prettier once the pansies grow a bit but you can get the idea. I am convinced that we have the happiest windows in the world. I would like to take moment to shamelessly plug the Habitat Home Store (if you didn't know I work for Habitat). We bought our shutters there for $3 a piece! With a little time and some paint they looked as good as new at a fraction of the cost.

9.24.2008

Gas Prices Suck!

Jason and I are blessed because we really don’t use our vehicles much. Most days we are able to bike or walk to work. I have been putting off getting gas in my car for two weeks but due to a concert tonight in Nashville (more about that later), I had to fill up. OUCH! How are you people who have to commute not totally broke? Seriously, it is awful. The worst part is that it cost 4 times as much to fill up my 10 gallon tank as it did 10 years ago when I started driving! Remember $.99 a gallon gas? Now I am just happy when I can get gas for under $4 a gallon. Sigh. I really hope that the concert will be worth the money we are spending on gas to get there.

Worst Parking Job of the Year

Working downtown I have the privilege of seeing people attempt to parallel park their cars. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen crappie parking jobs. It shocks me how many people can't parallel park. However, this one takes the cake! This person was at least 2 feet on the sidewalk (with both tires!). Who thinks that this it is acceptable parking job?

9.23.2008

Lil' Ann's Big Test!

Ann sailed through her puppy training final exam! Seriously, she amazed us. Thanks to to iMovie (the video editing program for idiots) I made a little video of her outstanding performance. She still has a ways to go, but this week she has had a breakthrough! If you live in Cleveland, and are interested in training your dog, I highly recommend Buddy Cummings, (423) 472-1827.



Ps. I wish had video from the first day of class so you could see the improvement. Now we just need to get her to stop jumping on people and licking their toes. Once we break those habits she will be a perfect little puppy!

A little Miss Mary in the Morning

Miss Mary has been hostile the last two weeks. Usually she will be hateful for a day or two but this time around it has been two weeks. I have wave and smile when I see her. I keep thinking that perhaps I can get her to cheer up. I can't, instead I get called a white whore.

This morning Cleveland Utilities came out to trim the branches around the power lines on my street. Not long after they got there Miss Mary came strolling down the street in her pajamas. About the time she saw them she began screaming "You white mother f#%kers, I am tired of this shit." The guys just stopped and watched her cussing them out. I think she catches people so off guard that they cannot be angry at her. I bet these guys are going to have the best stories when they get home about their time working on Walker Street.

9.22.2008

First Day of Fall


Today is quite possibly one of my favorite days of the year, it is the first day of autumn! I always like living in Tennessee but I love it when fall rolls around. In my opinion there is nothing more magical and romantic than beautifully colored leaves falling from the sky.

This is a dogwood tree on the corner of 1st and Broad Street (downtown Cleveland). While it is mostly green there are few leaves that have already started to turn a beautiful scarlet. It was so pretty that I had to share it with everyone on this lovely first day of autumn.

Hot Dog it is Jason's Birthday


Today is Jason's 27th birthday! Just wanted to make sure the whole wide world knew that today was my wonderful husbands date of birth! Hot Dog!

9.21.2008

Ann's Study Session

This is Ann's last week of puppy training. She has her final class on Monday. During this class she will be tested on her newly acquired skills. Since we did not want her to fail her test, we had an extra long study session this morning (this is why Jason is in his pajamas in the video). It has been hard to show people her new talents because when people come over the puppy in her takes over and she gets to excited to listen. Below is proof that the puppy training has paid off. Let just hope she passes her test tomorrow and graduates!

video
Okay, I am the first to admit that this video is a little boring. Actually, you can hear me in the video asking Jason to wrap it up. She stayed several times over 6 minutes, but I would not want to make anyone watch that. I just wanted to show everyone that Ann can listen. If she does half this good in class tomorrow we will be thrilled.

What did Prissy do this morning while Ann worked hard? She sat on her throne and ruled the house as always. What else would you expect from the princess?

9.20.2008

Book Review: The Little Book by Shelden Edwards

Wonderfully entertaining escapist fiction that encourages you to think.

Shelden Edwards’ debut novel spins a dizzying tale of elaborate fiction intertwined with historical facts. It took Edwards 30 years to finish The Little Book, which at almost 400 pages is nowhere near little. The book is centered around the unexplained time travel of the central character, Wheeler Burden. Burden awakes to find himself in 1897 Vienna, 50 years before his birth.

I usually find books with extreme far flung premises annoying and hard to swallow. However, Edwards writes with such depth and detail that you find yourself swept up in the tale. At some point in reading the book you stop trying to understand the intricacies and enjoy the odd twisted story. The novel explores everything from love, family dynamics, pacifism, Antisemitism, psychology and the arts. Even with this impressive list of topics, Edwards makes the The Little Book an amusing read that is the perfect way to round out the summer reading season. --Jaime for The Bradley News Weekly

Look for "The Little Book" on Amazon

9.19.2008

Cleveland City Police are serious about parking

The Cleveland City Police force has been cracking down on parking violations downtown. The parking spots in front of my office has a two hour limit. An officer comes along every morning and marks the tires on the cars parked on the street. If he comes back 2 hours later and you are still in the spot you get a nice little ticket. This morning everyone in my office could not help but laugh as we watched the officer mark the tires of the Bradley County Community Service Unit car. Apparently no one can escape the parking police (even county employees)! Having all been ticketed at some point, it made us feel better. Obviously the city must be hard up for some cash. But then again, aren't we all right now?

9.18.2008

Chop! Chop!

For sometime I have been pondering the possibility of lopping off my hair. Early on I decided that if I did, I would donate it. As soon as I found the web page for Beautiful Lengths, I knew that ready to make the cut.

Beautiful Lengths partners with the American Cancer Society to make wigs available to women who have cancer. My mother passed away last year from brain cancer. Early in her sickness one of the biggest hurdles for her was hair loss. Hair is a woman's glory, losing it is devastating. My mom was no exception. She tried to put off cutting it. Finally, when large clumps kept coming out, she asked me to shave it. It was so hard to remove the remaining portion of her hair.

Right after shaving her head she went to the American Cancer Society Wig bank and received a free wig. When I found out that I could donate my hair to make wigs for women who were in the same place as my mom, I knew I had no choice.

I am still adjusting to the shock of the hair cut, but I feel certain that I made the right choice.

PS I would like to note that my mother only wore the Wig Bank wig for a couple of weeks. She was not completely happy with the color. She convinced my sister to take her to wig shop in Orlando and by her one (their selection was a bit larger than the Wig Bank). Throughout her illness the American Cancer Society was a huge support to our family. I am happy to support them even if my mom was a little too picky for their wigs :).

9.17.2008

A Lawn Mower Race?

I was reading an article in the Cleveland Daily Banner and I almost laughed out loud when I read the list of events that were going to take place at the Foothills Country Fair. I really think that I might need to go so I can snap some photos to share. Yes, only in Bradley county would a lawn mower race be promoted as a main event! I love my town.

9.16.2008

Another Frank Video

My favorite farmer from the Farmer's Market has another video up! Thanks to the The Bradley News Weekly (the best place for local news) for making it possible for me to share Frank with the world.

Cha Cha

Cha Cha is amazing!! Text message a question to Cha Cha (242242) and they will answer it! It is awesome. The only charge is the cost of sending the text message. You can also ask questions on the website. On more than one occasion in the past few weeks Cha Cha taken over a dinner party. It is fun and informative. When it comes to the factual stuff they seem to be pretty much dead on.

Here are few questions I asked this morning.
  1. Have you heard of Cleveland, TN? Cleveland, TN: Population in July 2007: 39,190. Population change since 2000: +4.1%, 28.6 miles from Chattanooga, TN.
  2. Should I start using Twitter? Absolutely. I've heard so many great things about this from friends that are using it. It really is revolutionary. Check it out
  3. How much has Obama and McCain spent on their campaigns to date? McCain is near $144 million, while Obama is at $312 million. Keep the questions coming!
Everyone should Cha Cha!
Please share a question and answer in the comment section!!

9.13.2008

PlumGranny

Above is a photo of a plumgranny that I purchased this morning at the Farmer's Market. I have never heard of or seen anything like it. Since it was a slow day at the market, I asked the lady at the table what it was and what to do with it. She told me that is was mainly used for fragrance. Although, she did say that her granny ate them (a granny eating a plumgranny--I love it). She said just one in my house would make the entire place would smell wonderful. I took her up her offer and bought one. She was right. It smells amazing. I cannot describe it, but it is delightful. In addition to making my house smell nice, it so cute. It almost looks like a mini-pumkin. Anyway, I just thought I would pass along my delightful framer's market find.

Also, I am posting a photo (not a very good one) of a gas station in town (the corner of Keith and Inman) with $4.99 gas! Price gouging anyone?? It is a suckie day to be poor. I guess Jason and won't be going anywhere tonight unless we can get there on our bikes :).

9.12.2008

Music Review: Blue Highway "Through the Window of a Train"

Bluegrass you don't have to fear.

So maybe you are like me and your idea of bluegrass was shaped by the movie "Deliverance" and you are a bit skeptical about finding something in the genre that you can actually enjoy without giving you the creeps. Or perhaps you are an avid Bluegrass listener who has more than one CD entitled "instrumental banjo,” either way, the latest album by Blue Highway as one-size-fits-all bluegrass extravaganza.


The masterful and diverse instrumentation throughout this album will have you tapping your toes and chewing springs of hay in no time. Combine the playing with soft vocals light on the twang and you have “Through the Window of a Train” -- an album that appeals well beyond the typical Bluegrass listener. Whether looking for another “pickin’ and grinnin’” CD or simply wanting to expand the ol' musical horizon, “Through the Window of a Train” by Blue Highway would be a great place to start.


Not sure if you are heady to drop dough for the album? Watch them live first at Chattanooga's ThreeSisters Music Festival on October 4th.


Written for the Bradley News Weekly, published in September 19th by Jason Barks


The WARLOCK . . .he is everywhere!

Who needs Dog the Bounty Hunter when you have the Warlock? Yes, Cleveland has its very own bounty hunter. The truth be told I know NOTHING about this man. However, once you have been made aware of his presence you will see him everywhere! Big Lots, Target, TJ Maxx, Cameron's--EVERYWHERE! I deduct from the condition of his car and his handicap sticker he may not be the best fugitive recovery agent around. If you are a local and spot him let me know. One day I am going to get up the nerve to talk him, I am sure he is an interesting story.

9.09.2008

Good Mornin'

video

This is Lionel Bass. Lionel works for Broad Street United Methodist (they give Habitat office space in their building). It does not matter if it is day or night, Lionel can always be heard coming down the hall wishing everyone a "Good mornin'." Even if you are having a bad day of a day you cannot help but smile when you hear Lionel coming. Hope everyone has a good mornin'.

The things we do for love

Over the weekend, I bought a gun. Yes, me. I hate guns. Seriously, I loathe and despise them. Jason and I have had more fights over guns (buy, storing, gun control and so on) than we have over any other issue in our marriage. The liberal married a country boy and unfortunately guns have became a part of my life. As for this weekend, I was actually picking up a gun that Jason's dad had ordered from Fugats Firearms in Calhoun (pictured above). The mere fact that I walked into a building like this is impressive. Once inside I actually had to buy a gun. Being ignorant of the process, I was totally caught off guard by all that was involved. Finger prints, background checks and registration. Yes, registration! I have a gun registered to my name! When I offered to pick it up for Jason I did not realize what I was getting into. Of course when I got to Cleveland I immediately went to Ace and asked him if he knew what he got me into. He laughed. He knew. I may have purchased a gun, but I am still not a gun toting woman. I will not be putting an NRA sticker on my car (not that Jason hasn't tried). This whole gun buying fiasco is a testament of the compromise that I am willing to make for the love of my life. He better be grateful :).

9.05.2008

Incase of Nuclear Attach . . .

Bradley County courthouse still sports a fallout shelter signs from the cold war era.  I love that Cleveland still has signs that were hung before I was born.  

9.04.2008

Live United

Today Jason volunteered with Ace Hardware for the United Way's Day of Caring.  He traveled to Knoxville with some of his fellow employes to lend an 'Ace helpful' hand.  They planted a butterfly garden, re-stained a bridge, re-built and stained park benches, put up bird feeders and presser washed a pavilion in a public park in the city. 

Above is a picture of Jason standing in the center of the completed butterfly garden that he helped build. 

Missing Mom

I don't know why but this last week I have missed my mom so much.  It has been like she just passed away.  I am not sure why.  It has been over a year since she left us.  I think it might be because I have been talking about her more. I almost feel as if I have to talk about her or I will forget her.  I still grab the phone at times to call her.  I imagine conversation we would have had over the last year.  A lot of them are funny.  Mom and I were both so stubborn that we often bumped heads.  I think of all the things I want to tell her.  It is so hard not to look back with regrets.  I feel like there should have been more time with her.  Not just with her alive but before she got sick.  The cancer changed her to much.  Sometime I have to think really hard to remember her before she got sick. That scares me.  I need to write more about the women she was.  When I am feeling up to it, I will tell you all the stories and memories I have of Frankie.  She really was an amazing women.  

The photo above was taken the Thanksgiving before her cancer was diagnosed (the tumor was found on December 28th).  She is sitting with all of our picnic stuff on Playalinda beach while we all run and play in the surf.  The ocean was her favorite place.  This is the same beach that her ashes were scattered on. 

9.03.2008

Prissy Screams for Ice Cream!

Last night we went to Bruster's to get Prissy (we did not choose her name, if you don't know the story shoot me an email and I will explain) her first ice cream.  They gave her a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a little doggie bone on top.  She was in puppy heaven.   I realize that we have become 'those people' who treat their dogs like humans.  We really cannot help ourselves.  Until we have a baby our doggies are our kids.  Just wait, winter is coming and we totally will have them in puppy sweaters!

This photo is a sign of true love.  Jason shared his ice cream with me! Those of you that know Jason will know that he does not like to share. It is not that he is selfish, it is just that his food is his food.  I did not want a whole ice cream cone so he graciously allowed me to have a few bites of his.  It is funny how the smallest gestures communicate the most love.  A hundred roses would not have been as sweet as him sharing his dessert.  Sigh. I got myself a good man!  Now I just need to work on getting him to put the toilet seat down ;)

9.01.2008

Labor Day Doggie Fun

These photos aren't the best.  I snapped them with my cell.  I let the pups play while I enjoyed my morning off with a cup of coffee and a good book.


Little Miss Priss was not acting very Prissy this morning.  She took advantage of her extended puppy playtime and rolled in the dirt.  It is hard to see in the photo but she is filthy. 



Lil' Ann has taken to drinking out of the bird bath.  She has water on the porch but she seems to enjoy the birdbath water more.  This is the first time I have been able to get a picture of her doing it.  Unfortunately, we are in the process of moving our 'wood pile' so the yard looks messy.  Maybe I'll be able to get another picture today after we get everything cleaned up.

Before I go enjoy my day off, I wanted to leave you with a Miss Mary quote.  Yesterday she was hostile and when I went outside she yelled "Don't make me get it on ho." Ah, the joy of living on Walker Street. 

Have a great holiday!
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